Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan by George D Morgan
Over the past several years as I went through a drought period with authors I really enjoyed in my usual genres I branched out into non-fiction and creative non-fiction. I’m particularly interested in good books on the history of science and medicine, with special interest in under-represented subjects.
So with that in mind I picked up a copy of Rocket Girl to learn more about Mary Sherman Morgan, the woman who got the US to space. George Morgan is Mary’s son and does a very touching tribute to the memory of his mother. It is interspersed with anecdotes of from his childhood that add richness to the aftermath of resigning her position with the North America Aviation. What happens to an accomplished mathematician after she sets aside her career for her family?
We follow Mary from her small town North Dakota upbringing through an early education in chemistry and into the workforce with the rise of WWII. For me it is a fascinating looking into safety and the workplace as well as the gender dynamics inherent in the struggle for women to be treated fairly before, during, and after large societal shifts. You get a sense of the excitement and cavalier approach to safety that stands out like a mad scientist in a crowd of the early space race.
In other words, pick up a copy and read it. I highly recommend it. Certainly, I am willing to take it with a grain of salt given the author is her son, but given other books I’ve read I think it is pretty credible.
TLDR: Read this short story from Tor.com by Kathleen Ann Goonan that includes Mary Sherman Morgan as well.